Food Addiction Therapy: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery Programs | (2023)

Food Addiction Therapy: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery Programs | (1)Food addiction is a serious medical condition. Similar to drug addiction, the symptoms of food addiction can include difficulty controlling behavior, cravings, tolerance, dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse.

Unfortunately, many people who suffer from food addiction may hesitate to get help because the condition is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-esteem.

This article answers the following questions about food addiction treatment:

  • Is there a cure for food addiction?
  • What are the symptoms of food addiction withdrawal?
  • What are the benefits of residential inpatient treatment?
  • What outpatient treatment programs are available for food addiction?
  • Are luxury and executive rehab facilities available?
  • What therapies are available for food addiction?
  • What over-the-counter and prescription medications can treat food addiction?
  • What 12-step programs and support groups are available?
  • How can I find information on the best food addiction treatment centers?

Is There a Cure for Food Addiction?

According to The Food Addiction Institute, it is possible to overcome food addiction. Like other addictions, the condition may not be “cured” with a single course of treatment. But treatment can help to bring the condition into remission and can help you to repair any psychological, social, and economic damage.2

The goals of food addiction treatment are to:

  • Reduce overeating.
  • Help with any needed weight loss.
  • Address other issues associated with the illness, such as shame and low self-esteem.

Treatment for food addiction is similar to treatment for drug addiction. It typically includes counseling and support groups to help reduce cravings and to prevent relapse. Some insurance providers offer coverage for eating disorder treatment. Medications may also be used to reduce binge-eating episodes and/or suppress appetite.3

(Video) An Eating Disorder Specialist Explains How Trauma Creates Food Disorders

Need Help With an Eating Disorder? Virtual Online Treatment is Here!

Insurance Options Available.

Find Out More

Food Addiction Withdrawal

When people think of withdrawal symptoms, they typically think of substance abuse. However, food addiction has been shown to have its own associated withdrawal symptoms.

Some people with food addiction may have no withdrawal symptoms, but others can experience a variety of symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the foods eaten and the person’s body chemistry.

Food Addiction Therapy: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery Programs | (2)Common withdrawal symptoms people detoxing from food addiction may experience include:

  • Periodic cravings.
  • Headaches.
  • Confused or fuzzy thinking.
  • Insomnia.
  • Excessive sleepiness for a period of time.5

Although these symptoms can occur when a person is detoxing from certain foods, the symptoms are not always a direct result of the addiction itself. Many people have underlying health conditions as a result of their food addiction, and these conditions can contribute to the symptoms.5

(Video) Substance Use Treatment

If you’d like to learn more about food addiction treatment options that include detox, call a treatment support advisor at .

Residential Inpatient Treatment

Residential inpatient food addiction treatment centers are available for those suffering from food addiction or another eating disorder.

When people commit to a residential inpatient food addiction rehab program, they live at the facility and remain there 24/7 for a designated period of time. A starting length of treatment is typically 28-30 days, but programs can be 60, 90, 180, or 365 days in some cases.

Benefits of attending a residential recovery center include:

  • Focused, around-the-clock care.
  • Absence of the triggers and stressors of the outside world.
  • Scheduled and carefully portioned meals, which reduce the possibility of binge eating.
  • No need to worry about transportation to and from treatment.
  • Supervised detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, therapy, and support groups.
  • The support of peers facing similar addictions.

Outpatient Treatment Programs

Outpatient food addiction recovery centers are similar to inpatient programs. The treatments offered are typically the same, but care takes place on a part-time basis.

Outpatient food addiction rehab programs are ideal for those suffering from less severe food addictions as well as those who wish to remain active in their personal and professional lives. Some common treatment options offered in outpatient food addiction recovery centers include:

(Video) Beating a Food Addiction | CR Pete Petersen | TEDxUIdaho

  • Individual counseling.
  • Group therapy.
  • Support groups.
  • 12-step programs.

Luxury and Executive Facilities

Food Addiction Therapy: Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery Programs | (3)Luxury and executive treatment facilities are residential programs that are typically much more expensive than standard recovery centers. But they offer extra privacy and access to high-end amenities, services, and features, such as:

  • Private rooms.
  • Ocean or scenic view rooms.
  • Massage and spa treatments.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Swimming pools and hot tubs.
  • Gourmet meals.
  • Golf courses.
  • Horseback riding (equine therapy).
  • Fitness centers.
  • Recreational facilities.
  • Yoga and meditation.
  • Other alternative and complementary therapies.

If you need help deciding which type of food addiction treatment center is right for you, call our helpline anytime at .

Therapies for Food Addiction

Therapy for food addiction or binge eating disorder helps a person reduce the frequency of binge behavior, lose weight, and address psychological issues related to the addiction. Therapies for food addiction may be offered on an inpatient or outpatient basis and include the following:3

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT techniques teach people trying to overcome food addiction how thoughts and feelings can impact behavior. This therapeutic approach typically focuses on moderation rather than avoidance or abstinence from foods. It teaches coping skills and relapse prevention techniques, and identifying triggers for addictive behavior.
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT was developed as a treatment for borderline personality disorder, but it has also proved effective at treating food addiction. Through DBT, people can learn how to tolerate stress, regulate their emotions, and improve their relationships, which can reduce the desire to turn to food as a stress-reliever.
  • Nutritional counseling: Nutritional counselors or dieticians can teach people with food addiction how to cultivate healthy eating habits. Because we need food to survive, a person cannot remain abstinent in the same way they could if they were in recovery from a substance use disorder.
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy: Because binge eating can occur as a means of coping with relationship issues, teaching healthy communication skills and enhancing the quality of one’s support system can reduce the number of instances of binge eating episodes.

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications

A few medications have successfully reduced symptoms of food addiction and binge eating disorder. These may be prescribed in food addiction rehab and recovery centers. The most commonly prescribed are:3

  • Topamax (Topiramate): Topamax is an anticonvulsant drug that is usually prescribed to control seizures. It has been shown to reduce binge eating episodes, but it has side effects and risks, including dizziness and kidney stones.
  • Antidepressants (SSRIs): Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants can also reduce the number of binge eating episodes. Researchers have hypothesized that it may be due to the drug’s improvement of mood, which may reduce the negative feelings that often trigger binge eating. These drugs can have a wide range of side effects, from nausea and drowsiness to sexual dysfunction and nervousness.
  • Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine dimesylate): Vyvanse is a stimulant medication typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It reduces appetite, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it for the treatment of moderate to severe binge eating disorders. However, it is a controlled substance and can be habit-forming. It also has side effects such as dry mouth, headaches, and insomnia.

Support Groups and 12-Step Programs

Support groups and 12-step programs help people work on overcoming food addiction. Many of the 12-step programs available use the same 12-step approach developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, where participants work through the steps with the help of a sponsor.

Some of the common 12-step programs for food addiction include:

  • Food Addicts Anonymous:Food Addicts Anonymous believes that food addiction cannot be cured by willpower or therapy alone and is a biochemical disorder rather than a moral or character issue. They approach food addiction recovery by abstaining from addictive foods, following a nutrition plan, and working through the traditional steps.
  • Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous: Food Addicts in Recovery Anonymous is an international fellowship for those who have experienced problems with food and eating. Their path to recovery follows the traditional steps among the mutual support of others recovering from food addiction.
  • Overeaters Anonymous: Overeaters Anonymous is a fellowship of people who are in recovery from compulsive eating. Their goal is to abstain from compulsive eating and food behaviors through mutual support, shared experience, strength, and hope.
  • Compulsive Eaters Anonymous: Compulsive Eaters Anonymous is designed for anyone seeking recovery from compulsive eating. The meetings use a structured, disciplined approach to recovery by accepting and carrying out each of the steps among the support of peers.

How to Find the Best Food Addiction Treatment Centers

If you or someone you love is suffering from food addiction, there is hope. To learn more about food addiction treatment centers near you, contact our recovery support hotline for information and assistance at .

(Video) How to help food addiction

Read next: Getting Help for Food Addiction


[1]. Olsen, C. (2011). Natural Rewards, Neuroplasticity, and Non-Drug Addictions. Neuropharmacology, 61(7): 1109-1122.

[2]. Werdell, P. (2011). Is it Possible to Recover from Food Addiction? Food Addiction Institute.

[3]. Mayo Clinic. (2016). Binge Eating Disorder.

[4]. Zolfagharifard, E. (2015). Cheese really is like crack: Study reveals cheese triggers the same part of the brain as drugs. DailyMail UK.

[5]. Food Addiction Institute (2016). Assess, Treat and Refer: On Assessment, Treatment and Referrals.

(Video) How To REPROGRAM Your Mind To Break ANY ADDICTION In 9 Days! | Dr. Joe Dispenza


What are the three P's in addiction recovery? ›

3 “P's” for Recovery: Passion, Power and Purpose.

How do you break an eating addiction? ›

How to beat it…
  1. Decide that you want to change. ...
  2. Precisely articulate what triggers your cravings. ...
  3. Make a meal plan. ...
  4. Find yourself a distraction tactic. ...
  5. Write out and regularly re-read your goals. ...
  6. Don't keep temping food in the house. ...
  7. Get you're family & friends on board. ...
  8. Keep a food diary.
Feb 28, 2022

How are food addicts treated? ›

Treatment for food addiction is similar to treatment for drug addiction. It typically includes counseling and support groups to help reduce cravings and to prevent relapse. Some insurance providers offer coverage for eating disorder treatment.

What are the key ingredients for successful addiction recovery? ›

Exploring the Four Pillars of Successful Long-Term Addiction Recovery
  • What Are the Four Pillars of Addiction Recovery? ...
  • Ensuring Long-Term Health. ...
  • Having a Stable Home Life. ...
  • Creating a Life of Purpose. ...
  • Developing Relationships in Community.
Oct 24, 2022

What are the 4 D's of addiction? ›

The four Ds are variously set out as: • Delay: for a few minutes and the urge will pass. Drink water: sip it slowly. Deep breathe: take three slow, deep breaths. Do something else: to take your mind off smoking.

What are the 4 C's of the addiction cycle? ›

These four factors, compulsion, craving, consequences and control, are unique to addiction alone and are classified as the 4 C's.

What is the main cause of food addiction? ›

Consuming “highly palatable” foods, or foods that are high in carbohydrates, fat, salt, sugar, or artificial sweeteners, triggers the pleasure centers of the brain and releases “feel-good” chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

Does food addiction ever go away? ›

Food addiction is a problem that does not go away on its own. You need to treat it by starting within yourself because if you don't, it may worsen over time. Consider seeking support from a mental health professional. You don't have to fight this journey alone.

How long does it take for food addiction to go away? ›

It won't ever make a rebound. To permanently kill a habit, stick with three years. To experiment, try 30 days. To find out how dependent you are on a food or drink, test your theory for seven days because you might find (as I did by not eating meat or bread) that it only takes a week.

What medication is used for food addiction? ›

Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse) is approved by the FDA to treat binge eating disorder. The drug, which is also used to treat ADHD, helps reduce the number of episodes and is the first FDA-approved medication to treat binge eating disorder.

What is the first step in food addiction recovery? ›

First Step writing is about admitting powerlessness over food. If there was something else that a person could do in a particular situation to have control over their eating, then they would not be powerless.

What do food addicts in recovery eat? ›

FA members eat food that can be found at any grocery store: fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairies, and whole grains. Members cook their own meals at home with the guidance of a sponsor and also enjoy eating in restaurants.

What are the 4 A's in recovery? ›

We are all in for the 4 A's: “Anxiety, Awareness, Acceptance, Action”.

What are the six ingredients behavioral addictions consist of? ›

Behavioral addiction consists of six ingredients: compelling goals that are just beyond reach; irresistible and unpredictable positive feedback; a sense of incremental progress and improvement; tasks that become slowly more difficult over time; unresolved tensions that demand resolution; and strong social connections.

What is the most important factor in recovery? ›

An important factor in the recovery process is the presence and involvement of people who believe in the person's ability to recover; who offer hope, support, and encouragement; and who also suggest strategies and resources for change.

What are the three types of addicts? ›

However, in terms of substance addictions, some of the more common types of addiction include: Alcohol addiction. Prescription drug addiction. Drug addiction.

What is the rule of 3 addiction? ›

The rule of 3 is that the hardest times in beating an addition is on day 3, during week 3 and during month 3. For me this is when i want them, crave them and MUST MUST have them.

What are the three behavioral addictions? ›

Behavioral addictions such as gambling, overeating, television compulsion, and internet addiction are similar to drug addiction except that the individual is not addicted to a substance, but he/she is addicted to the behavior or the feeling experienced by acting out the behavior.

What is the neurological process of addiction? ›

To recap, addiction involves a three-stage cycle—binge/intoxication, withdrawal/negative affect, and preoccupation/anticipation—that worsens over time and involves dramatic changes in the brain reward, stress, and executive function systems.

What are the six models of addiction? ›

This post will serve as the first of two blog posts about six different models of addiction: moral, spiritual, disease, psychodynamic, social, and biopsychosocial.

What trauma causes food addiction? ›

However, one of the most common factors linking eating disorders is a history of childhood trauma. Children who experience emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are more likely to develop psychological issues, including body image and eating disorders.

What is the most common food addiction? ›

Another recent study, also using YFAS, measured the addictiveness of different foods. The findings confirmed that the most addictive foods were heavily processed foods with more fat and sugar.
The 10 Most Addictive Foods
  • Pizza.
  • Chocolate.
  • Chips.
  • Cookies.
  • Ice cream.
  • French fries.
  • Cheeseburgers.
  • Soda (not diet)
Oct 1, 2018

Is food addiction a mental health issue? ›

While food addiction is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it typically involves binge eating behaviors, cravings, and a lack of control around food ( 1 ).

What are the long term effects of food addiction? ›

This can lead to several physical, emotional, and social consequences, such as digestive issues, heart disease, obesity, low-self esteem, depression, and isolation. A food addict will often re-engage in these destructive behaviors, even amidst undesired consequences, due to the need for induced feelings of pleasure.

How do you not relapse on food? ›

  1. Step 2: Know the Warning Signs. It's important to look for clues that you're bingeing again. ...
  2. Step 3: Have a Plan. ...
  3. Step 4: Don't Let a Single Setback Get You Down. ...
  4. Step 5: Keep Triggers Out of Sight. ...
  5. Step 6: Don't Skip Meals. ...
  6. Step 7: Have an Occasional Treat. ...
  7. Step 8: Change the Setting. ...
  8. Step 9: Distract Yourself.
Dec 20, 2014

How long does it take to reset cravings? ›

It takes about three to four weeks for your brain and body to eliminate cravings for sweets, and begin craving healthier foods that satisfy more of your actual nutritional needs.

Is there a prescription medication to help you eat? ›

Although megestrol acetate, oxandrolone, and dronabinol are the only drugs that the FDA have approved as appetite stimulants, some other medications have the side effect of increasing appetite. Some doctors may prescribe them off-label, or for their primary purpose, for this reason.

What chemical is fast food addiction? ›

Eating junk food causes a release of dopamine in the brain. This reward encourages susceptible individuals to eat more unhealthy foods.

Which of the following is most common drug prescribe in the treatment of eating disorders? ›

Antidepressants are the most common medications used to treat eating disorders that involve binge-eating or purging behaviors, but depending on the situation, other medications are sometimes prescribed.

What are the 5 levels of recovery? ›

What Are the Five Stages of Change? The five stages of addiction recovery are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance.

What are the 12 step program for food addiction? ›

The 12 Steps of Overeaters Anonymous
  • Honesty: Admitting you are powerless over food.
  • Hope: Believing that a higher power can help you obtain control over your addiction.
  • Faith: Turning your life over to God or another higher power.
  • Courage: Creating a personal moral inventory.
Nov 15, 2022

What are the top 5 addictive foods? ›

Anyhow, here are the top 10 most-addictive foods, among those assessed in the study:
  • Pizza.
  • Chocolate.
  • Chips.
  • Cookie.
  • Ice cream.
  • French fries.
  • Cheeseburger.
  • Soda (not diet)

How many meals should I eat in recovery? ›

Guarnaschelli: Eating healthy meals and snacks every 3 to 4 hours can be very helpful. This boosts your body's ability to break down and use food. It helps your body better say when it is really hungry or full. Three meals and three snacks are a helpful place to start.

What is the GREY sheet food plan? ›

This plan provides for complete abstinence from man-made sugars and starches and from any foods not shown on the food portions list. In addition to the lists of abstinent foods and foods we avoid, the GreySheet contains important guidance on abstinence, which your sponsor will review with you.

What are the 7 R's of recovery? ›

To that end, they will often use one or more tactics from what I call the 7 Rs For Recovering From A Crisis: Renounce, Reinvent, Restructure, Rebuild, Rename, Rebrand and Reset.

What are the 12 principles of recovery? ›

The 12 spiritual principles of recovery are as follows: acceptance, hope, faith, courage, honesty, patience, humility, willingness, brotherly-love, integrity, self-discipline, and service.

What are the R's of recovery? ›

The four main goals of recovery nutrition are to: Restore, Replace, Repair, and Rest.

What are the 3 most addictive substances in food? ›

Of the hedonic substances found in food, only alcohol, caffeine, and sugar are addictive.

What are the 10 stages of addiction? ›

Read on to learn more!
  • Stage 1: Denial. You should be proud of yourself during recovery. ...
  • Stage 2: Avoidance/Defensiveness. ...
  • Stage 3: Crisis Building. ...
  • Step 4: Immobilization. ...
  • Step 5: Confusion/Overreaction. ...
  • Stage 6: Depression. ...
  • Stage 7: Behavioral Loss of Control. ...
  • Stage 8: Recognition of Loss of Control.

What causes addictive behavior? ›

Environment: Exposure to addictive substances, social pressure, lack of social support, and poor coping skills can also contribute to the development of addictions. Frequency and duration of use: The more someone uses a substance the more likely they will become addicted to it.

What are the 3 P's of recovery? ›

3 “P's” for Recovery: Passion, Power and Purpose.

What is the best recovery method? ›

  • Sleep more. Sleep gives your muscles time to recover from exercise. ...
  • Massage. Many athletes incorporate massage in their training to reduce muscle soreness. ...
  • Compression garments. Wearing compression garments has become common among athletes over the past several decades. ...
  • Contrast water therapy. ...
  • Cryotherapy.

What are three high risk factors for relapse? ›

Poor sleep, tension (stress), and negative emotional states increase the risk of relapse;[10] adequate sleep, rest, and relaxation are essential components of self-care, optimal functioning, healing, and recommitting to a healthy lifestyle in recovery.

What are the three P's of effective strategy? ›

If you want your business to succeed, you absolutely must focus on three key variables: people, process, and product. The three Ps, as they're often called, provide the highest return for your efforts because they act as the cornerstone for everything your business does.

What is the 3 Ps in mental health? ›

The 3 P's stand for Pervasiveness, Permanence and Personalisation.

What are the 3 theories of addiction? ›

Positive Reinforcement-PR (“Pleasure Seeking”) Incentive Salience-IS (“Craving”) Stimulus Response Learning-SRL (“Habits”) and.

What are the three 3 types of recovery? ›

Self-recovery, Like-recovery, and Dedicated-recovery.

What are the strategic 3 C's? ›

The 3 Cs are: Company, Customers and Competitors - the three semi-fixed environmental factors in your market.

What are the 3 basic strategies? ›

According to Porter's Generic Strategies model, there are three basic strategic options available to organizations for gaining competitive advantage. These are: Cost Leadership, Differentiation and Focus.

What are the three modes of strategy? ›

Henry Mintzberg proposed that there are 3 modes through which managers make decisions:
  • Entrepreneurial mode.
  • Adaptive mode.
  • Planning mode.
Apr 7, 2022

What are the 4 A's of mental health? ›

In addition to information and tools, this web-based resource presents an easy-to-follow employer framework for fostering a mental health-friendly workplace, centered around four pillars referred to as the “4 A's” – awareness, accommodations, assistance, and access.

What are the 7 psychosocial support? ›

Aspects of wellbeing include: biological, material, social, spiritual, cultural, emotional, and mental (ACT Alliance & Church of Sweden, 2015).

What are the 8 Ps in counseling? ›

These elements are described in terms of eight P's: presentation, predisposition (including culture), precipitants, protective factors and strengths, pattern, perpetuants, (treatment) plan, and prognosis. Presentation refers to a description of the nature and severity of the client's clinical presentation.

What is the trauma theory of addiction? ›

In this hypothesis, researchers believe that individuals who struggle with addiction may be more likely to develop psychological complications from the trauma they experience in their lives.

What is the paradox of addiction? ›

The First Paradox: Our Suffering Keeps Us Well

Some say that addiction is a life lived elsewhere: the compulsion to drink or use drugs is always present and inescapable, and a person in active addiction has to continually plan to satisfy their next craving.

What are 2 psychological theories used to explain addiction? ›

Models of addiction risk that have been proposed in psychology literature include an affect dysregulation model of positive and negative psychological affects, the reinforcement sensitivity theory model of impulsiveness and behavioral inhibition, and an impulsivity model of reward sensitization and impulsiveness.

What are the 5 W's in recovery? ›

Who, what, where, when, why- there are questions to ask after a relapse. If you or a loved one have recently relapsed, investigating the 5 W's isn't an inquisition, but a search for knowledge to prevent relapse in the future.

What are the 5 general rules for recovery? ›

Teaching clients these simple rules helps them understand that recovery is not complicated or beyond their control. It is based on a few simple rules that are easy to remember: 1) change your life; 2) be completely honest; 3) ask for help; 4) practice self-care; and 5) don't bend the rules.


1. Alcohol Addiction: How To Detox & Begin Recovery | Stanford
(Stanford Center for Health Education)
2. 10 POWERFUL Stories of Addiction (& Recovery) | Rich Roll Podcast
(Rich Roll)
3. Models of Treatment for Addiction | Addiction Counselor Training Series
(Doc Snipes)
4. Inside NHS detox centre - Victoria Derbyshire
(BBC News)
5. Sara’s eating disorder ‘monster’ and her struggle to get help | Four Corners
(ABC News In-depth)
6. Treatment Levels and Types of Treatment | Addiction Counselor Exam Review
(Doc Snipes)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Madonna Wisozk

Last Updated: 16/07/2023

Views: 6037

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (48 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Madonna Wisozk

Birthday: 2001-02-23

Address: 656 Gerhold Summit, Sidneyberg, FL 78179-2512

Phone: +6742282696652

Job: Customer Banking Liaison

Hobby: Flower arranging, Yo-yoing, Tai chi, Rowing, Macrame, Urban exploration, Knife making

Introduction: My name is Madonna Wisozk, I am a attractive, healthy, thoughtful, faithful, open, vivacious, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.